BC Ferries launches bidding process for 4 retired, 60-year-old vessels

BC Ferries launches bidding process for 4 retired, 60-year-old vessels
Nicholas Pescod
The Queen of Burnaby is seen in this file photo.

Proponents have a chance to pick apart pieces of BC Ferries’ history as the corporation opens the bidding process for four of its nearly 60-year-old vessels.

The Powell River Queen, Bowen Queen, Mayne Queen, and Queen of Burnaby are included in BC Ferries’ request for proposals (RFP), published on Tuesday, May 28.

“There’s limited use for them,” said Jeff Groot, the corporation’s executive director of communications and engagement via Zoom.

He says they’ve reached the point where they need to be dismantled and recycled, so BC Ferries has decided to pursue opportunities to dispose of them rather than sell them as ships.

“We’ve issued a request for proposals, and we’re looking for companies that will help us with a responsible approach to what we do with four of our vessels,” he said.

According to Groot, the ferries, all built in 1965, have reached or are “almost past their end of life.” So now’s the time to upgrade the fleet, he explains.

“We’ve got four new Island-class vessels that are being built right now. We’re also going to be moving ahead with a number of major vessels in the coming years,” he said. “As we bring on those new ships, it means we have to responsible decisions about what we do…to make room for these new additions.”

All four of the vessels up for sale were built in Victoria.

The Powell River Queen, Bowen Queen, and Mayne Queen (Bowen class) each measure about 278 feet long (85 metres) and were retired in 2022 or 2023.

The larger Queen of Burnaby, meanwhile, was retired in 2017.

The 426-foot-long (129 metre) ferry was put up for auction in 2018, and someone bought it, but the deal fell through. It was noted that it leaked hydraulic oil and was full of hazardous materials. In 2021, BC Ferries moved it to Union Bay, where locals voiced concerns, saying disassembling it there would be hazardous to the environmentally sensitive area.

By 2022 it was moored in Richmond.

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BC Ferries has previously stated that it conducts background checks on potential buyers to ensure they recycle vessels properly.

According to the document, the new RFP requires proponents to include their recycling and work plans, schedule, and project costs, among other requirements.

“We’re looking for responses from companies in Canada and the United States,” added Groot.

“Obviously, the West Coast would be easier for getting these ships up and down the coast, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

“We’re trying to hear back from companies so we understand who’s out there, who can do this in a cost-effective, safe way that meets all the applicable local laws and environmental standards, and minimizes the environmental impacts through the dismantling process.”

The RFP process closes June 23. Find more details here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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